I have owned both an American car and Japanese car and the Japanese made car lasted longer. With proper maintenance on both American and Japan vehicle, the Japanese car I have last longer.
To counter post from NO side who mentioned American made cars helps the economy. I support American made products because they provide jobs in the U.S. Although, Toyota and Honda are headquartered in Japan, the mentioned car companies have manufacturing facilities in states such as Alabama, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky. So they do provide work in the U.S. as well
Look at any country in the world, you will find Japanese cars form poor countries with bad roads to most developed countries. Also if you take the average number of years a person has owned a car, you'll mostly find people hold on to Japanese models than American or European brands. Mainly because they have built cars to suit all weather conditions that would outlast any of their competitors till date. However, I believe in the coming decade a major share of the Japanese car market would be eaten by the Koreans which will make it further difficult for the American and European brands.
Though Japanese Cars may be more affordable most times, I do not agree that they are better. American made vehicles seem to have a far better quality. Japanese vehicles may even have a better appearance in some cases however, that is not always the most important consideration one must take into account.
Although it is hard to generalize such a large market, Japanese cars are usually more sought after and well-reviewed than American cars. The added expense and time investment of maintenance of American cars is probably the biggest factor in this. Japanese cars consistently rank higher than American cars in reliability. In addition, the improved gas mileage is of increasing importance.
I don't actually have any data to back this up, but this is the general perception. I have owned several Japanese cars, and several American cars, and I noticed that the Japanese cars just won't break. The American cars, however, seem to have little problems all of the time. Maybe it's just my prejudice, and maybe I'm just falling for advertising, but it seems that Japanese cars are just better made than American cars. Maybe that's changing?
How do you treat your car? Do you bring it in for scheduled tune ups, oil changes, and general repairs when they need them? If you said yes, then your car should be running for a very long time. If not then you don't take care of your car. I have a 2001 Dodge Durango with almost 200,000 miles on it and have had no problems with it what so ever. It all depends on how you take car of your car.
Japanese car makers excel in producing cars that meet or exceed some of the various characteristics that a car buyer is looking for, i.e. gas mileage. However, the overall quality of American cars is better. Car buyers typically look for specific qualities in a car, such as gas mileage, safety features, resale value, etc. Japanese cars may out-perform American cars in one or more of these qualities, but never all of them. When you look at everything as a "package", overall the American made car is better. Plus, buying American helps the American economy.